A Fine Line

There is a wide range of fishing line strengths folks can use when bass fishing. Which to use depends on where and how the angler prefers to fish. For example, many Bassmaster Elite Tournament pros, like Tommy Biffle, frequently use line up to 65-pound test to flip or pitch a heavy jig in shallow water, when bass have to be landed quickly in heavy vegetation or thick cover.  On the other end of the spectrum, Aaron Martens may be using 4-pound line for his finesse drop-shotting technique, usually deeper and offshore.

Light line is also weaker line, so why is even use it? Just because the line is smaller, does not mean the fish is smaller. There is an old saying that “The biggest fish hits the lightest line.”  Recently in Texas, angler Stephen Proctor was fishing for crappie on 4-pound line and ended up landing a 13 + pound largemouth bass.

Lighter line, with its smaller diameter means that it has less friction, and thus has a greater casting distance.  This helps prevent spooking fish by getting the boat too close.  When the bite slows, such as now with colder water, switching to a fine, thread-like line can help the hookups continue.  This is also the case when fish are heavily pressured, particularly finicky, or in very clear water.

Another reason to select light line is the higher fun level and the tougher challenge. In an interview a few years ago Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S., suggested that light lines might be the next challenge in tournament formats.

Host of the top rated National Fishing Show “Jarrett Edwards Outdoors” is a light line fanatic, preferring 5-pound test line on a spinning reel. He also has an amazing technique with his light line battles. One of the issues with a spinning reel is line twist because the spool rests on the side of the rod. The more line twists, the more it gets stressed to a breaking point and the increase in chances of loops or knots. Amazingly, Jarrett cranks his drag settings to completely tight. Instead of allowing a loose drag to compensate for the pressure a large fish would exert on micro line, this experienced angler back reels or even lets the handle spin backwards and slows it by applying pressure with the palm of his hand as the fish slows a run.

When fishing with light line Bassmaster Elite Gerald Swindle shared advice on Wired2Fish,, “Don’t panic. Take your time.”

I should add that one doesn’t want to take too long to land and over stress the fish either.  However, when Jarrett Edwards films his show, he has an underwater photographer so both he, and his audience, have the pleasure of watching massive bass released unharmed while he says, “See ya, Sweetheart.”

Knowing when and how to land fish on light line comes with experience and this winter, I’m going to go try to gain some more. What strength of line do you use and why?

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.